Expanding and improving basic education in developing countries requires, at a minimum, teachers who are present in the classroom and motivated to teach, but this essential input is often missing. This paper describes the findings of a series of recent World Bank and other studies on teacher absence and incentives for performance. Surprise school visits reveal that teachers are absent at high rates in countries such as India, Indonesia, Uganda, Ecuador, and Zambia, reducing the quality of schooling for children, especially in rural, remote, and poor areas. More broadly, poor teacher management and low levels of teacher accountability afflict many developing-country education systems. The paper presents evidence on these shortcomings, but also on the types of incentives, management, and support structures that can improve motivation and performance and reduce avoidable absenteeism. It concludes with policy options for developing countries to explore as they work to meet Education for All goals and improve quality.